For some reason I forget to roast vegetables. How simple it is to toss them with oil, spread in a shallow pan and bake for 20-30 minutes. How can I complain of being short on time? When I roasted these oyster mushrooms, not only did I get to eat a big bowl of this salad but our kitchen held onto the rich aroma for the rest of the day.
There are other enjoyable things I forget to do. Like redeeming that gift certificate for a one-hour massage and settling in with a good book. Though it’s more accurate to say I neglect reading because I don’t have time. Which is true, of course. Except that I do have time to stay up-to-date on Glee and Facebook. Hm.
I was invited to join a book club a couple of years ago and it’s been like a miracle. It sounds like I’m overstating but my youngest was around three and I was just starting to breathe and put my toe in the waves of normal adulthood again. Navigating my way back to things I enjoy doing felt impossible. Worried that I would never finish the books, I hedged a bit when I was asked but soon found it to be a delightful excuse and the perfect form of accountability. Monthly conversations over wine and good food with a savvy, deep, funny group of multi-generational women? Now that’s an incentive to read.
I usually manage to finish the novels and nonfiction works we pick each month, but on the desk in my room there’s a growing stack of food books I can’t seem to crack. They look wonderful. Important, even. But I don’t forgo the latest episode or turn off Firefox a few minutes early in order to sit down, open one up to the first chapter and indulge.
Enter this post by one of my favorite food writers, Tara Austen Weaver. What is she doing to help her make more time to read? She’s starting a food-themed book club with her readers! Isn’t that brilliant? I can’t say I’ll join in every month, but I’m reading the first book, Diana Abu-Jaber’s The Language of Baklava, and planning to chime in. With the light staying later and a few stray warm days, I see myself settling in on our front porch, breathing in fresh air, spring lilac and the written word.
½ pound oyster mushrooms
2 T olive oil (plus extra for tossing)
1 T sherry vinegar
½ t brown mustard
1 t tahini
sea salt and pepper to taste
spinach leaves, chiffonade
shavings of semi-hard farmstead cheese
Preheat oven to 400°. Slice oyster mushrooms into large, thick slices. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, season with salt and lay out on a metal baking sheet. Shake the pan from side to side until slices are mostly not overlapping. Roast in oven until brown and crisp, turning and tossing the mushrooms occasionally, about 20 minutes.
Combine vinegar, olive oil, mustard and tahini in a bowl and season to taste. Add spinach, mushrooms and any accumulated oil or juices from roasting pan.
Divide among serving plates and scatter shaved cheese on top. Pair with something from your current reading list and enjoy!